A Public Health Approach to Ending Building Collapses in Nigeria

Building collapses happen frequently in Lagos, sparking concern from the government and other stakeholders. The use of substandard building materials, the deployment of unsafe, cost-cutting techniques, and the lack of professional supervision at various levels of the construction process are often blamed.

"It's time to use the public health approach of epidemiology to stop the epidemic of building collapses in Lagos," Dr. Ifeanyi M. Nsofor writes for AllAfrica. 

Nsofor is a graduate of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and Nnamdi Azikiwe University Medical School. He is a Senior New Voices Fellow at the Aspen Institute and a Senior Atlantic Fellow for Health Equity at George Washington University

Nsofor argues "that building collapse puts patient (the community) in danger. Two factors are important to understand epidemiology - distribution (frequency and pattern of health-related events in a population) and determinants (the causes and other factors that influence the occurrence of disease and other health-related events). There are several ways in which building collapse constitutes health-related events such as occupational hazard (for construction workers), physical traumas, mental traumas, hospitalizations, healthcare costs and death."

Nsofor says that knowing the determinants of building collapse is the first step to prevention. "These are mainly due to structural issues such as the use of substandard building materials, non-adherence to building codes, poor building maintenance and adverse weather events.

Second, building collapse is of public health importance due to the health-related events that arise. Lastly, community education on the importance of everyone's contribution to preventing building collapse should be prioritized. There are different communities of stakeholders - artisans, architects, construction companies, building regulatory agencies and lots more. For example, engaging with artisans to insist on using quality building materials and adhering to building codes," he writes.

In October 2021, at least 45 people died after a 21-storey building under construction in the Ikoyi district of Lagos crumbled.

InFocus

Four workers dead as another building in Lagos collapses.

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